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Trump to impose sanctions over Turkey's detaining of pastor

02 August 2018

The threatening language of the United States will not benefit anyone, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday, as relations between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies soured over the case of a USA pastor jailed in Turkey on terrorism charges. Turkey has waged a two-year effort to have Gulen extradited from the United States.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders made the announcement on Wednesday, calling Andrew Brunson's incarceration "unfair and unjust".

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused his American counterpart of waging "psychological warfare" against Turkey over the pastor and warned that the United States may lose "a strong and honest ally" in Turkey.

Last week President Trump warned Turkey it would face "large sanctions" if it did not release Mr Brunson immediately.

Ankara accuses Gulen of organising the July 2016 failed coup, claims which he denies.

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Under the sanctions to be imposed by the Treasury Department, any property, or interest in property, belonging to Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul or Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu within USA jurisdiction would be blocked.

As a result of the sanctions, US persons can't engage in transactions with either man and any property of theirs within USA jurisdiction is blocked.

In a statement announcing the sanctions, the US Department of the Treasury said Gul and Soylu are the leaders of organisations that have engaged in "serious human rights abuse".

He said Erdogan overestimated the significance of his personal relationship with Trump, given growing impatience with Turkey in Congress, the State Department, and Pentagon.

He was moved into house arrest last month for health reasons, but US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said this was not enough. Turkey's Foreign Ministry was expected to release a statement later Wednesday.

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Analysts say relations between the United States and Turkey have come under increasing strain in the past two years over the US role in Syria and Turkey's stronger ties with Russian Federation.

Andrew Brunson, who led a Protestant church in the Aegean city of Izmir, was placed under house arrest last week after almost two years in jail on charges of espionage and supporting terror groups.

Brunson denies the charges while U.S. officials have repeatedly stressed that Brunson is innocent.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters that the administration will continue its talks with Turkish officials even as the sanctions take effect.

The upheaval over the Brunson case comes as U.S. -Turkey relations had begun to improve slowly after years of tension, mostly having to do with conflicting objectives in Syria.

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Trump to impose sanctions over Turkey's detaining of pastor